Saint John Paul II, A Faithful and Prudent Steward, 29th Wednesday (II), October 22, 2014

Fr. Roger J. Landry
Sacred Heart Church, Lacombe, Louisiana
Mass for the Northern Shore (of New Orleans) Legatus Chapter
Wednesday of the 29th Week in Ordinary Time, Year II
Memorial of St. John Paul II
October 22, 2014
Eph 3:2-12, Is 12:2-6, Lk 12:39-48

To listen to an audio recording of today’s homily, please click below: 

 

The following points were attempted in the homily: 

  • The readings today are very appropriate for the first feast day of St. John Paul II. They provide a means better to understand the new saint’s life and apostolic ministry and also give us a clue of how the truths pointed to in today’s readings are meant to be lived by us, too.
  • In the Gospel, Jesus contrasts the “faithful and prudent steward”  with an unfaithful and imprudent one. The faithful and prudent steward has two basic qualities. First, he is vigilant for the Master’s presence and lives in such a way as if the Master is always present. Second, he gives to others the Master’s food at the proper time. The unfaithful and imprudent steward is one who says “My Master is delayed in coming” and instead of nourishing others starts to abuse them, beginning to “beat the menservants and maidservants, to eat and drink and get drunk.” St. John Paul II was a faithful and prudent steward who has a deep awareness of God’s constant presence and always sought to fill others with the gifts that the Lord had first given him. In the Responsory today, we focused on Isaiah’s words “You will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation.” St. John Paul II always drank from the stream of salvation flowing from Christ’s wounded side, was well-hydrated with this “living water” and then allowed that water to overflow to irrigate the lives of people across the globe. Because he drank from the font welling up to eternal life (Jn 4:14), he was able to say with Isaiah, “God indeed is my savior; I am confident and unafraid. My strength and my courage is the Lord and he has been my Savior.” Because he regularly experienced the Lord’s saving presence, he was able to live and preach the Christian life courageously and boldly summon the whole world — as he did 36 years ago today in his inaugural homily — to “be not afraid!” because the same Lord is present to give us strength and courage. As a faithful and prudent steward, St. John Paul II brought others with joy to the springs of salvation so that they were able to receive from the Master through his earthly vicar their food and drink — and all they really needed — at the proper time.
  • In today’s first reading, St. Paul said to the converted pagans in Ephesus described more depth the type of stewardship that a faithful and prudent servant carries out. “You have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for your benefit,” he wrote. “Of this I became a minister by the gift of God’s grace… to preach to the Gentiles the inscrutable riches of Christ and to bring to light for all what is the plan of the mystery hidden from ages past in God, … so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the Church.” St. John Paul II’s stewardship of God’s grace was likewise for our benefit. Like St. Paul, he preached to all the nations about Christ’s riches, traveling to 104 different countries, with a distance of 28 times around the circumference of the earth and three round-trips to the moon as a “pilgrim pope of evangelization,” as he called himself in Mexico City in 1992. And he sought in a particular way to make known the “mystery hidden from ages past in God.” In his famous “Catecheses on Human Love in the Divine Plan,” popularly known as the Theology of the Body, he said that that hidden mystery was the spousal love God had for the human race that God began to reveal over the course of time through Isaiah, Hosea and Jeremiah the Prophets, through Jesus’ own work as the Bridegroom, and through St. Paul’s own commentaries on how, as he wrote to the Ephesians, Christ left his Father in heaven and came to cling to his wife and become one flesh with her (Eph 5:21-32). Christ came to reveal the nuptial dimension of all of reality and how the Sacrament of Marriage — and all the Sacraments — are meant to enter into this spousal love, so that husbands would love their wives as Christ loved his bride the Church and so that wives would learn to reverence their husbands as the Church reverences Christ.
  • The culmination of this hidden mystery takes place in the Mass, as the spousal union between Christ and his Bride is consummated. In the ancient world, altars were covered with canopies to symbolize not only the Jewish chuppah underneath which Jewish couples exchanged consent and then put that consent into body language in the matrimonial chamber, but to symbolize that the altar itself is a marriage bed on which the Bride of Christ takes within herself the Body  and Blood of the Bridegroom, becomes one flesh with Him, and is made capable of “making love,” receiving His love and together with him loving others as He loves first. This spousal love, this one-flesh union, is the living font from which we’re called to become inebriated with the waters of salvation. This banquet contains the food that St. John Paul II, as a faithful and prudent steward, gave to the world at the proper time.
  • “Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more,” Jesus said at the end of today’s Gospel. We have been entrusted with the greatest riches of all in Jesus’ body and blood in Holy Communion. The Son of Man comes not only at an hour we do not expect but very punctually at an hour we do, each day in daily Mass. And he wishes to do in us what St. John Paul II allowed him to do in Him, so that we who have been entrusted with much may meet the demand flowing from those great riches — imitating Karol Wojtyla in letting the springs of “living water” overflow to give others what the love of God they always need no matter the time.

The readings for today’s Mass were: 

Reading 1 eph 3:2-12

Brothers and sisters:
You have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace
that was given to me for your benefit,
namely, that the mystery was made known to me by revelation,
as I have written briefly earlier.
When you read this
you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ,
which was not made known to human beings in other generations
as it has now been revealed
to his holy Apostles and prophets by the Spirit,
that the Gentiles are coheirs, members of the same Body,
and copartners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the Gospel.Of this I became a minister by the gift of God’s grace
that was granted me in accord with the exercise of his power.
To me, the very least of all the holy ones, this grace was given,
to preach to the Gentiles the inscrutable riches of Christ,
and to bring to light for all what is the plan of the mystery
hidden from ages past in God who created all things,
so that the manifold wisdom of God
might now be made known through the Church
to the principalities and authorities in the heavens.
This was according to the eternal purpose
that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord,
in whom we have boldness of speech
and confidence of access through faith in him.

Responsorial Psalm is 12:2-3, 4bcd, 5-6

R. (see 3) You will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation.
God indeed is my savior;
I am confident and unafraid.
My strength and my courage is the LORD,
and he has been my savior.
With joy you will draw water
at the fountain of salvation.
R. You will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation.
Give thanks to the LORD, acclaim his name;
among the nations make known his deeds,
proclaim how exalted is his name.
R. You will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation.
Sing praise to the LORD for his glorious achievement;
let this be known throughout all the earth.
Shout with exultation, O city of Zion,
for great in your midst
is the Holy One of Israel!
R. You will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation.

Gospel lk 12:39-48

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Be sure of this:
if the master of the house had known the hour
when the thief was coming,
he would not have let his house be broken into.
You also must be prepared,
for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”Then Peter said,
“Lord, is this parable meant for us or for everyone?”
And the Lord replied,
“Who, then, is the faithful and prudent steward
whom the master will put in charge of his servants
to distribute the food allowance at the proper time?
Blessed is that servant whom his master on arrival finds doing so.
Truly, I say to you, he will put him
in charge of all his property.
But if that servant says to himself,
‘My master is delayed in coming,’
and begins to beat the menservants and the maidservants,
to eat and drink and get drunk,
then that servant’s master will come
on an unexpected day and at an unknown hour
and will punish the servant severely
and assign him a place with the unfaithful.
That servant who knew his master’s will
but did not make preparations nor act in accord with his will
shall be beaten severely;
and the servant who was ignorant of his master’s will
but acted in a way deserving of a severe beating
shall be beaten only lightly.
Much will be required of the person entrusted with much,
and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.”